Karnataka will vote in the Lok Sabha Elections in two phases - on April 18 and April 23. Elections will be held on April 18 and April 23 in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively. The poll schedule clashes with the extended weekend as several government holidays fall between April 17 and 23. The larger concern is - could this result in low voter turnout?
While April 17 is Mahavir Jayanti, April 19 is Good Friday, followed by the Easter weekend (April 20 and 21). With school exams expected to be completed by April 18, families would be planning vacations, especially if working parents get consecutive days off.
“The voter turnout could be less due to the number of holidays. Bengaluru has especially had low voter turnout and it has not improved. With so many holidays in between the elections, people are likely to go for a vacation," said BJP leader from Karnataka S Suresh Kumar.
Suresh Kumar said that the party has requested the central leadership and also the Election Commission to think about rescheduling elections for Karnataka as the state is notorious for low voter turnout when there are extended holidays.
The BJP leader says that the party has instructed its workers at every booth to request voters to not take vacations and vote in the upcoming elections. "The party workers at every booth will go from one household to another and urge people to cast their votes. It is a question of who will be govern the country for the next five years and it is the duty of people to vote," he added.
However, leaders in Tamil Nadu and Kerala believe that the extended weekend will not hamper the voter turnout. DMK spokesperson A Saravanan believes that people of Tamil Nadu are aware of their civic duty to vote and will not miss the opportunity to cast their votes.
"I don’t think it will affect voter turnout because summer vacations are there towards the end of April. People are not going to take a mini vacation before a big vacation. Moreover, people are aware of their civic duties and educated on their constitutional rights so they will not be giving this a miss. However, the Election Commission should have taken into consideration the Chithirai Thirunaal festival in Madurai. They said they had but we don’t know whether they did a thorough job of it," A Saravanan added.
The situation is not the same in Kerala as opposed to Karnataka, according to MB Rajesh CPI(M) leader and the candidate from Palakkad as an extended holiday would mean that voters would return to their hometown, which would increase voter turnout.
"When the election comes after long holidays it is likely that voter turnout can be high. Chances is high for people will travel to their native place (Kerala) from the other cities where they work and cast votes because of the holidays," CPI (M) leader MB Rajesh said.
With inputs from Manasa Rao and Saritha S Balan